1852 Coffin church bell
May 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm #12404
I was recently in our church tower for the first time and took photographs of our bell. I am trying to track down some information. I have the following questions:
1. What was significant about the decorations, particularly the cherub/world motif?
2. The bell is dated 1852 but our church was built between 1872 and 1885. Could our bell have been stored at the Coffin Foundry that long or did we get a used bell?
3. Should such old bells be cleaned to their original luster?
Any information will be helpful. I have enjoyed trekking through your web world.
May 13, 2014 at 1:17 pm #17771GarryParticipant
Is it possible to get you to post some of the photos that we might see the items you are talking about please?
The details of the decoration might tell us more, as there are similar motif’s on different bells meaning different things. It’s hard to tell without images!
The 1852 mark might mean a lot of things, but could simply be that this is when the mold used was made. It doesn’t necessarily mean you got a ‘used’ bell. Some bells with old dates (the most common example is the 1878 Saignelegier bell, It’s molds are still producing copies today!) are reused over and over again. You might try contacting the Verdin Bell & Clock factory, who bought out Coffin Bell I believe (http://www.verdin.com/) they might have some old records etc. of that sale.
Cleaning is a matter of personal preference, I believe. I try and keep mine clear of deposits and corrosion but, especially the outside bells, I usually let them develop their own natural look or patina. cleaning with a soft /firm brush is usually safe, wire brushes and other harsh abrasives are not good. Remember that the harsher the cleaning method, the more of the original material you rub off, and adjust your style accordingly!
May 13, 2014 at 7:28 pm #17772jackbellParticipant
It’s highly doubtful a new Coffin bell went unsold that many years. It was most likely second-hand from another public building or even a wrecked river boat. The cast-in date was always the actual year of casting. I’ve seen the same cherub/globe motif on bells cast at Garratt & Sons foundry in Madison, Indiana and Wm Kaye foundry in Louisville, Ky. These firms operated during the same period as Buckeye (Coffin) and were just 60 miles from Cincinnati. If the motif had a significance it might have been known only to whoever designed it. Apparently it was popular in the midwest. I tried researching Garratt & Sons foundry once. Was never able to find out where they came from or where they went, just that they were active in Madison in the 1840s & 50s. It’s very possible there was a connection to the Garratt foundry in San Francisco later in the century.
May 14, 2014 at 5:56 pm #17773
I thought I attached a photograph when I first posted.
May 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm #17770jackbellParticipant
It’s certainly beautiful. You did not mention the size but by use of a wood wheel instead of a cast one the bell must be extra large. The foundry was taken over by E W Vanduzen in the early 1860s. He was G W Coffin’s son-in-law. Van Duzen did away with the ornamentation and his bells were rather plain. The foundry was operated by his descendants until it closed in 1951
May 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm #17774huge bellParticipant
could you tell me?
what is the diameter of just the bell?
what state is it located in?
would you sell it?
May 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm #17775
You can see the foot of a six foot man to the left of the bell. I think the bell’s diameter is about 3.5 to 4 foot across. The next time I can get up to it, not an easy task I’ll take measurements. This is in Charleston, WV and is our church bell so it is not for sale. I am only looking for information about its history and style for our appreciation within the church.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.